346 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
atheists, who may not consciously deny God’s existence, but live as if he
does not exist.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD IN DAILY LIFE
When God appeared to Moses on Mount Horeb, he said, “The place
where you stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5). The sixth chapter of Isaiah
describes the prophet’s vision of God and hearing the angels sing, “Holy,
holy, holy is the Lord” (Is 6:3). Moses reacts to God’s holiness with awe,
a deep reverence for the all-embracing majesty of God. Isaiah responds
to God’s holiness with an awareness of the profound and infinite purity
of God. Both men undergo a spiritual transformation that they attribute
to their experience of God’s holiness.
The First Commandment is more than a reference to an abstract
idea of God. It is an announcement of the presence of the most holy
God, both in outward creation and within the human soul. His existence
does call for our faith.
Our surrounding culture is filled with many distractions that shut
out the majestic voice of our holy and glorious God. St. Augustine, com-
menting on his troubled youth, speaks of this experience with these
words, “You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept
me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been
at all.” But God was not simply a passive presence to Augustine, a diffi-
dent lover wondering what to do. Augustine tells us that God spoke with
a vigorous voice. “You called, you shouted, and you broke through my
deafness. You breathed your fragrance on me. . . . I have tasted you, now
I hunger and thirst for more” (
, bk. 10, no. 27).
This is the best context for appreciating the importance of the First
Commandment. As God did with Augustine, he does for us again—call-
ing, shouting, trying to break through our deafness, breathing his fra-
grance upon us.
Many, indeed, are listening. Numerous Catholics are seeking a deeper
relationship with God through daily Mass, frequent reception of the
Sacraments, the prayerful reading of Scripture, retreats, spiritual direc-